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Private Members’ Bills

Volume 591: debated on Thursday 22 January 2015

1. If he will review the effectiveness of the procedure for tabling money resolutions for private Members’ Bills; and if he will make a statement. (907153)

5. If he will review the effectiveness of the procedure for tabling money resolutions for private Members’ Bills; and if he will make a statement. (907157)

It is the responsibility of the Member in charge of the Bill to make a request to the Government to table any money or Ways and Means motion that may be required in respect of private Members’ Bills that have had a Second Reading. It is the usual but not invariable practice of the Government to accede to such requests.

On Monday, the House adjourned after barely three hours of Government business, so is it not an outrage that the Leader of the House cannot find time to bring to the House important money resolutions on private Members’ Bills, such as that of the hon. Member for St Ives (Andrew George), which would exempt thousands of disabled people from the terrible effects of the Government’s hated bedroom tax?

On the question of Monday’s business, it is right to allocate a full day of debate on the Floor of the House when all stages of a Bill are being considered. It is up to the House if it does not use the full time, but there would be considerable objections if we did not allocate a full day for all stages of a Bill. As I have explained to the House before, the problem with the money resolutions on the Affordable Homes Bill and the European Union (Referendum) Bill is not one of time; there has been no agreement in the coalition about those money resolutions, and that remains the case.

It is six months since the House voted to back the excellent Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) which would reverse the worst aspects NHS privatisation, yet the Government have failed to bring forward the necessary motion for it to proceed to Committee. Will the Leader of the House listen to the will of the House and the British public, and ensure that it is respected by acting so that the Bill can now proceed to Committee?

There was necessary consideration of whether a money resolution was needed for that Bill. The House authorities have confirmed that no money resolution is needed for the Bill to enter Committee and I have now instructed officials to table the motion that will facilitate the establishment of another Committee so that the Bill can proceed.

As the Leader of the House will be aware, the Procedure Committee recommended, as part of its inquiry into private Members’ Bills procedure, that if a money resolution has not been tabled by a Minister within three weeks of Second Reading, a written ministerial statement should be made setting out the reasons for the delay. Does he think that that would be a sensible change to introduce?

I am certainly aware of that recommendation of the Procedure Committee, and my hon. Friend is right to remind the House of it. There may be a variety of views in the House on it. It is important for Ministers to explain why, in one way or another, when a money resolution is not granted, as I have done for the Bills in question during this Session.

Will my right hon. Friend reflect on the answer that he gave the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy)? Even if there had been a need for a money resolution for the Bill promoted by the hon. Member for Eltham (Clive Efford), it would have been totally wrong to bring one before the House, because the Bill is based on an utter fallacy and on misinformation, as no privatisation of the health service is planned under this Government.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. Were a money resolution required on that or any other Bill, the Government must also have regard, in granting a money resolution, to whether huge expenditure could be involved. It would therefore be irresponsible for any Government to say that they would always grant a money resolution under any circumstances.

Many people will be curious about the answers that the right hon. Gentleman gave to the hon. Member for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) and my hon. Friends, because although the Procedure Committee first published its recommendations on private Members’ Bills on 2 September 2013 and published revised proposals on 24 March 2014, the Government still have not allocated time for the House to debate the report. When will the Government provide that time so that we can drag the private Members’ Bills process into the 21st century?

There are quite a lot of outstanding reports from the Procedure Committee, as the hon. Gentleman knows well. I have been taking stock of them recently, and I certainly intend that a very large proportion of them will be debated in the House shortly, before Dissolution—I will announce in due course in what order—so that consideration can be given to the many changes that the Procedure Committee has recommended.